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Jessica’s surprise birthday trip for her son – PREP287

Jessica’s surprise birthday trip for her son – PREP287

Jessica, her husband, and their two sons had a surprise (to the boys!) trip to Walt Disney World staying at the Polynesian Resort, and attending Boo Bash. They also utilized a lot of outside vendors to create a magical birthday experience.

The Basics

Jessica, her husband, and their two boys (ages 10 and 4) flew to Walt Disney World August 27-September 4 for a surprise trip for their son’s 10th birthday. This was their 2nd trip as a family of 4 and they intentionally planned the trip for this time of year both to celebrate his birthday but also because of low crowds and good weather.

They stayed at the Polynesian Villiage Resort and enjoyed a lot of amenities at the resort. This was their first time staying at a deluxe resort. They attended Boo Bash and Jessica coordinated a lot of furloughed cast members’ businesses to make the trip magical for her family.

Arrival Day (August 27)

Jessica’s oldest son had a half day of school that day and she’d put a note in his backpack letting him know he had a birthday surprise when he got home. When he got home they played a game and the answer was “We’re going to Disney!”

Everyone was so excited and they left 3 hours later! The boys were both so surprised and excited. 

This trip was a big celebration for getting through the lock-down and celebrating his 10th birthday. They spent a lot of time during quarantine watching Disney videos and dreaming of going back to Disney World.

Their original plan was to go in March of 2022 but they moved it up to August of 2021.

They landed in Orlando and were picked up by a car service at 10 p.m. The driver met them at baggage claim and helped them with their bags. 

They arrived at the Polynesian Village Resort at 10:30 p.m. very hungry and it was dark. There wasn’t much open so they got some snacks from the vending machine and went to bed.

Epcot (August 28th)

Jessica’s boys do not wake up early so she planned to let them sleep in, especially after the late night the night before. They all woke up around 8:30 a.m. and mobile ordered breakfast. They ate breakfast in the room, got ready, and went to Epcot! 

They walked to the Ticket and Transportation Center and took the monorail straight to Epcot. They arrived around 12 p.m. 

Their first stop at Epcot was the Seas with Nemo and Friends. They only waited about 5 minutes. After that they walked over to Soarin’ and rode as a family. There was only a 10 minute wait so they rode it twice in a row.

Jessica’s youngest son always asks to do pressed pennies everywhere they go and she usually says no, so this time she came prepared! They did their first pressed penny in The Land pavillion.

From the Land they walked over to Journey into Imagination just as it started to rain. Thankfully the rain wasn’t that bad.

At 3 p.m. they went to Via Napoli for their lunch reservation. Her son had a birthday shirt on and received a birthday dessert and celebration. They all loved it.

After lunch they walked over to Frozen Ever After. The posted wait time was 40 minutes but they only waited 30 minutes. 

From Norway, they walked to Mexico and rode the Gran Fiesta Tour before beginning a walk around the World Showcase. They did some shopping and got some snacks. 

By now it was pouring rain and they were getting wet. They did Spaceship Earth on their way out. 

They took the monorail back to the TTC and walked back to their room. They were very tired and wet. They picked up their groceries on their way back to their room. They ordered their groceries from Vacation Grocery Delivery

Their goal at the Polynesian was to get a lot of Dole Whips, so they got those and watched the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. 

Her son also watched a video that they could mail coconuts from the Polynesian. They found two at the gift shop and mailed those. They were really excited about that! 

Animal Kingdom (August 29)

They got up, got ready, and were on the bus by 10 a.m. They went straight to the Kilimanjaro Safaris and waited 10 minutes. They had a great driver.

They got a snack at Pongu Pongu Lounge and they really loved the Boba drinks. Na’vi River Journey had 25 minute wait before doing rider swap for Flight of Passage. Her older son got to ride it with mom and then with dad. 

They walked over to It’s Tough to be a Bug and her younger son did not like it at all. This is where they learned that he does not like 3D experiences.

Dinosaur was their next stop and this wasn’t scary at all for her younger son. However, this is where they realized that her older son lost his magic band at It’s Tough to be a Bug. They walked back and found it without issue.

With his magic band found, Jessica and her older son did Expedition Everest with just a 5 minute wait. They were starting to get tired and it was very hot. They took a break with Satu’li Canteen. They enjoyed the food, rest, and air conditioning. 

They started walking back to the bus and got back to the hotel by 5:30 p.m. The boys wanted to go swimming so they changed and went to the pool. 

That night they had ‘Ohana reservations for 8:30 p.m. and watched the fireworks from the table. They also saw the Electrical Water Pageant from the table! 

Before their trip, Jessica ordered stickers that said, “Thank you for being a magic maker” from Sleepy Stickers by Ashlee. They handed those out to special cast members.

Jessica - PREP287

They ate dole whips on the beach and enjoyed those on the beach before heading back to their room. 

Birthday and Magic Kingdom (August 30)

Today was Jessica’s oldest son’s actual 10th birthday! They woke up at 9 a.m. to a fruit tray and chocolate covered strawberries made by Olivia’s Kitchen. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

Jessica - PREP287

While they enjoyed their fruit, Jessica had their door decorated for the birthday by Kreative Kreactions by KK. The boys were so excited by the special gifts and decorated door. 

They took the boat to the Magic Kingdom around 12 p.m. and went straight to Pirates of the Caribbean. They got to see Captain Jack before the ride and the boys loved that. 

From there, they walked over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and waited about 25 minutes to ride. It was exciting that her younger son was tall enough to ride and he really enjoyed it.

After Big Thunder, they waited about 15 minutes and rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. They walked on The Barnstormer and Dumbo the Flying Elephant before taking a break at Big Top Treats. It was very hot! 

They enjoyed a slushie and a break in the air conditioning. After their break they went to Carousel of Progress. Jessica and her husband enjoyed it but the boys were not impressed. 

They left Magic Kingdom and took a bus to the Beach Club for a Beaches and Cream Soda Shop reservation. They made it just in time for their reservation and had a delicious meal. 

She was so excited to order the kitchen sink for his birthday. She even brought special candles for his birthday that they were able to put in the ice cream. Everything they ate was delicious.

Jessica - PREP287

They took the bus back to the Magic Kingdom, a boat back to the Polynesian, and went back to swim! They watched the fireworks from the beach tonight and the Electrical Water Pageant.

That night she had cake pops delivered and they finished the night with those! 

Hollywood Studios (August 31)

Jessica set her alarm and got up early to get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. They got boarding group 9! 

She knew from there that they would need to get going early because that’s an early boarding group. They arrived at Hollywood Studios around 8:45 a.m. and headed toward Galaxy’s Edge because she assumed her boarding group would be called quickly. 

They went on Slinky Dog Dash first. It was her youngest favorite! After Slinky Dog Dash their boarding group still wasn’t called so they did Toy Story Mania. Her husband really liked this one! 

By 10 a.m. they left Toy Story Land and their boarding group still wasn’t called, but they had reservations at Topolino’s Terrace. She went back to Galaxy’s Edge and asked a cast member what they should do. The cast member said to go to their dining reservation. 

There was no line as they took the Skyliner over to the Riviera Resort and Topolino’s Terrace. They loved their meal. The food was great and the character interactions were really lovely.

After breakfast, they went straight to Galaxy’s Edge to ride Rise of the Resistance. They waited about 30 minutes to ride. There was no problem that they were late.

Her younger son was a bit scared but everyone else loved the ride. After riding they went over to build droids! Her sons and husband all built droids at 2 p.m at Droid Depot. They all loved the process.

It was a wonderful experience. They got the backpacks to carry the droids and the boys loved carrying them around.

They had blue and green milk after that. They liked the green milk but not the blue milk. But it was refreshing! 

At 3 p.m. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway had a 20 minute wait. They all loved the ride. 

They then waited 5 minutes for Star Tours. Her younger son didn’t wear the glasses because she knew he didn’t like that. 

The boys then both made light sabers in the gift shop by Star Tours.

They were all hungry and tired so they mobile ordered some snacks from Woody’s Lunchbox before leaving the park around 5 p.m.

They got back to their hotel room to relax and then Justin came and did Jedi Training with the boys. The boys were so excited about this and they had a really great experience.

Justin was so patient and did Jedi training just outside their hotel room in some green space. Both boys count it as a highlight of the trip.

Around 7 p.m. they all went back to Hollywood Studios and did Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Slinky Dog Dash. Jessica and her boys did Alien Swirling Saucers while her husband did Toy Story Mania. They also rode Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway with almost no wait at all! 

There was almost no one in the park and the lines were very low. 

The boys were ready to go back to the room to play with the droids near the pool area. They played with Connect Four, they mobile ordered Captain Cooks, and went back to the room. 

Jessica - PREP287

Hollywood Studios (September 1)

Jessica was very tired. She couldn’t imagine setting the alarm to get another boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. If she happened to wake up in time, she was going to check. She happened to wake up just before 8 a.m. and was able to get boarding group 84.

They decided to go to Disney Springs in the morning and arrived at 11:30 a.m. They went to World of Disney first.

Jessica really wanted to get silhouette pictures of her kids and heard that she could do that at Disney Springs. The person that does it is only there two days a week. She took a brochure that had instructions on how to submit photos in the mail and have it done that way. 

There was a very short line to get into Gideon’s Bakehouse so they waited in line there and got their cookies with almost no wait at all! 

It was rainy and about lunch time so they went to Planet Hollywood for lunch. They weren’t busy at all but it took a very long time. It was storming so they didn’t mind waiting it out inside.

From there, they went to the Christmas store and picked out ornaments. Her husband is very into LEGO so the LEGO Store was very important. Jessica didn’t realize that you had to have an appointment to make a Mini Fig at the LEGO store. The wait was 2 hours, so they weren’t able to do that.

They went back to their hotel room and had some cookies. They fell in love with Gideon’s. Jessica hoped they could go to Trader Sam’s and put their name in on the virtual queue but by the time their name was called, they were ready to head back to Hollywood Studios! 

They were back at Hollywood Studios around 5:30 p.m. They went right to Slinky Dog Dash and rode that with almost no wait. 

Their boarding group had already been called but they knew it didn’t matter so they scanned and walked right on. There was no wait at all.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run had about a 15 minute wait so they went there next. She tried to talk her boys into being pilots but they preferred to be gunners. Her husband sat this one out.

They walked right onto Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway after that. They were all ready to head back so they shopped their way to the bus. 

Their bus was waiting, they got right on, and were back to get Dole Whips, Captain Cooks, and ate dinner on the balcony in the room. They could see the Electrical Water Pageant from their balcony and really enjoyed it.

Magic Kingdom (September 2)

They woke up and had Gideon’s cookies for breakfast, which was absolutely lovely.

They were about to take a boat over to the Magic Kingdom at 11:15 a.m. but the boat was slow and they had a lunch reservation at Grand Floridian Cafe for 1 p.m. Jessica realized it would be difficult to go to Magic Kingdom and then come back for lunch. 

She was able to modify the time to 11:55 a.m. and they walked over to the Grand Floridian Cafe for lunch. It was delicious! 

They took the monorail from the Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom. Wait times were very low but it was very hot! 

When they got in, Jessica saw the Silhouette cart and she got them done for each of her boys. She was thrilled! The boys sat in a chair and he cut them out in about 10 minutes. They got them framed and they are Jessica’s favorite souvenir from the trip.

Then it was time to ride rides! They did the Mad Tea Party, it’s a small world, and Tomorrowland Speedway all with minimal waits. The boys really wanted to do Tomorrowland Speedway but Jessica and her husband weren’t excited about it. But the boys loved it.

They all did the PeopleMover and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin without any wait. Space Mountain had no wait so her older son did that on his own. Her husband waited in line with him but didn’t ride.

In the gift shop after Space Mountain her son was able to make a custom phone case. While they were waiting for the phone case, they rode PeopleMover again.

Haunted Mansion had no wait at all so they did that, one of Jessica’s favorites! She then went to Momento Mori to get some special gifts. 

They mobile ordered Casey’s Corner for the boys and some spring rolls for Jessica and her husband. It was starting to rain a bit. They did Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean without a wait.

They went to Splash Mountain in the midst of some rain and storms. They went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad after that before heading to the front of the park. 

They shopped their way out of the park and watched the fireworks from the boat on their way back to their hotel. They got dole whips and sat on the balcony again. 

Boo Bash (September 3)

Jessica - PREP287

They got up and went to breakfast at ‘Ohana at 11 a.m. It was really good! 

They did some shopping at the resort and began packing the room, shipping some things home, and getting ready for Boo Bash

Jessica tried to get into Trader Sam’s again but by the time they were called, they weren’t available.

Around 4:15 p.m. they went back to the room to get ready for Boo Bash. Jessica had scheduled face painters to come at 5 p.m. to paint the boys faces. It was airbrushed so it lasted through rain, sweat, and wasn’t thick or uncomfortable. 

Her youngest son wanted to be baby Yoda and they made a stencil for his face to turn him into baby Yoga! Her oldest son wanted lightsabers and the millennium falcon on his arms. He didn’t want it on his face because he finds it irritating.

Jessica was incredibly impressed with the whole experience. They were so nice and were able to do incredible work. While they were doing the face painting, it started pouring rain! Jessica wanted to get to the MAgic Kingdom by 7 p.m. but it was raining so hard that they couldn’t leave.

Once the rain let up a bit they ordered some dinner from Kona Cafe and got on the bus for Magic Kingdom around 8:30 p.m. They did some shopping while the fireworks were going off. 

They went to Jungle Cruise, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and Pirates of the Caribbean as soon as they entered the park. They waited about 25 minutes for Peter Pan’s Flight and then did The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Jessica - PREP287

They saw a cavalcade and then rode Big Thunder Mountain again. They waited 25 minutes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train because it had been down most of the evening. 

Then her oldest son wanted to do Space Mountain again. While he did that, Jessica and her younger son rode the PeopleMover again. They didn’t get back to Haunted Mansion because it had a very long wait most of the night. 

The wait times were not better at Boo Bash than during the day. They did get lots of snacks, ice cream treats, and enjoyed that very much. The lines for PhotoPass were very long so they only ended up doing one of those.

Her younger son fell asleep on their way out of the party around 12:30 a.m. and took the monorail back to the TTC. They walked back to their room and they were to their room by 1:20 a.m. 

Final Day (September 4)

They woke up and did some pressed pennies, grabbed some coffee, and enjoyed the resort before heading out at 3 p.m. on Magical Express to the airport.

Info from this episode


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Meredith K

Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

Loved this trip story! All the info on the services from furloughed cast members is great. And incredibly jealous of the super low crowds they had! Thanks for sharing